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  • 1. AS Media Studies Study Notes Unit G322 Section B Audiences and Institutions The Film Industry Part 1General Introduction 1
  • 2. Contents – The Film Industry Part 1- General IntroductionPage 4 - General Introduction to the exam paperPage 5–Preparing for Section B of the ExamPage 9 - What is Convergence and why does it matter?Page 12- What is Audience Fragmentation?Page 14 - How is the Internet changing things? Case Study - YouTube & MySpace Part 2 – The Film IndustryPage 20 – Introduction to Production, Distribution &ExhibitionPage 21 – The 5 Major Film Distributors in the UKPage 24 – UK/US - The Special Relationship with HollywoodPage 28 – Case Study – Sony SynergyPage 31 – Case StudyThe Growth of Indiewood in the 1990s&Lost in Translation (2003) Part 3 – The British Film IndustryPage 36 – The British Film Industry in 2012…Page 41 – How do films get funded in the UK?Page 45 – The 2005 CrisisPage 46 – Case Study – BBC Films (Production)Page 48 – Case Study – Why the UK Film Council closed in 2010? Part 4 – A History of British Film Since 1984Page 53 – Changing Fortunes 1984-1996Page 54 – Britpop, BritLit&BritGrit: British Cinema since 1996Page 59 – Case Study – DNA Films (Production) & 28 Days Later (2002)Page 61 - Case Study – Momentum Pictures (Distribution) Part 5 – ProductionPage 65 – How does the life of a film begin?Page 67 – The IDEA, the PACKAGE, the OUTLINE…Page 70 – Why are films so expensive to make?Page 76 – Case Study – Lionsgate (Production & Distribution) Part 6 – DistributionPage 78 – Definition of a distributorPage 81 – Types of UK Distributors: Majors & independentsPage 83 – Case Study – United International Pictures (UIP) (Distribution)Page 84 – Film ClassificationPage 86 – Case Studies –Spiderman (2002) &The Dark Knight (2008)Page 88 – Marketing a Film: from USP to Word-of-MouthPage 93 – Release patterns: Saturation, wide and limited releasePage 96 – The Film Industry and DVDsPage 98 – The Future of Film Distribution in 3 words – Video on DemandPage 99 – Case Study – The Marketing of Cloverfield (2008)Page 104 – Film and the Audience of Tomorrow Part 7 - ExhibitionPage 107 – What is Film Exhibition?Page 109 – What does a Film Exhibitor Do?Page 113 – Background to Cinema Exhibition in the UK 2
  • 3. Page 115 - Cinema Exhibitors – How do they make money?Page 116 – Key Issues in Cinema Exhibition in the UKPage 119 – Types of Cinema in the UK: Multiplex, Multi-Screen, Subsidised, Art HousePage 122 – The Future of Cinema Exhibition in the UK Part 8 - Case Study – My Summer of LovePage 125 – Pre-ProductionPage 128 – ProductionPage 129 – Post-Production Part 9 – Film in the Digital AgePage 132 – New Technologies and Cinema – a 120 year old love affair…)Page 136 - Six important changes to the Film Industry in the last decadePage 141 - What are the implications for Cinema in the 21st CenturyPage 145 – Laggardly cinema at last starts to embrace digital (The Times, June 2006)Page 146 - Avatar: changing the face of film for ever 3
  • 4. General IntroductionPreparing for the examThe specification says…For the exam you should be prepared tounderstand and write about the processes of filmproduction, distribution, marketing andexchangeas they relate to contemporary mediainstitutions.The nature of audience consumptionandtherelationships between audiences andinstitutions.In addition, you need to know about: the issues raised by media ownership in contemporary media practice; the importance of cross media convergence and synergy in production, distribution and marketing; the new technologies that have been introduced in recent years at the levels of production, distribution, marketing and exchange; the significance of proliferation in hardware and content for institutions and audiences; the importance of technological convergence for institutions and audiences; the issues raised in the targeting of national and British audiences by international or global institutions; the ways in which your own experiences of media consumption illustrate wider patterns and trends of audience behaviour. 4
  • 5. Preparing for Section B of the exam…You need to undertake case studies of the film industry considering their production,distribution and consumption?You are looking at institutional processes and audience consumption. There should be somefocus on YOUR experience of being a consumer of film yourself.Case Studies - what do they need to include? These need to involve the study of a specific studio or production company within the contemporary film industry that targets a British audience. These can be based in the US (Hollywood), in Britain (Film4, BBC Films), or part of World Cinema (Bollywood). They need to include the study of a studios patterns of production, distribution, exhibition and consumption by audiences.This should also be accompanied by study of how contemporary films are distributed (digitalcinemas, DVD, Blu-ray, downloads, etc.) and how this has changed the production,marketing and consumption of films.What do you need to know for Section B of the exam?You need to have a good up-to-date knowledge of the key issues involved inproduction, marketing, distribution and consumption of films. You need to be able to refer toactual examples to support your points. You also need practice at the format of theexamination in order to hone your skills.How long should you spend on the section B question?You should spend 45 minutes on your section B question.What sort of questions will be asked in Section B?You will be expected to answer the question using examples from your case studiesto support points made in the answer. The questions might ask students to consider some orall of the following: How is the film industry making use of advantages in digital technology? How do film audiences consume/receive a particular text? How and why are changes in the consumption and production of films happening? To what extent are film audiences the agents, beneficiaries or victims of changes in production, distribution or exhibition? What are the methods of distribution/exhibition for the film industry? 5
  • 6. The exam questions will resemble these in format:What impact has digital technology had on institutions in the media industry that you havestudied?How does the institution you have studied attempt to target the audience for its product?Discuss the claim that ‘all media institutions will become fully digital or decline’ withreference to the media industry you have studied.How has your institution responded to the pace of change within the media industry youhave studied?Describe the various strategies used by your institution to secure its survival in thecontemporary marketplace.How has the institution you have studied attempted to target its audience across differentmedia, platforms and markets?Specimen exam question Discuss the issues raised by institutions’ need to target specific audiences within a media industry which you have studied.Possible essay plan:By institutions the question is asking for you to write about a particular studio/production ordistribution company specifically. By specific audience the question is asking you to writeabout a cross section of the potential film going audience – you might like to think of thetypical target audience for most mainstream films. And naturally, you are focussing on thefilm industry.You will be marked on your ability to illustrate changing patterns of production, distribution,exchange and consumption through relevant case study examples and your own experiences.You should cover the following in your response to the question: How different production practices (ways of making films) allow films to be constructed for specific audiences. Various distribution and marketing strategies that raise audience awareness of specific films or genres of films. The use of new technology to enable(more accurate?) targeting of specific audiences. Different audience strategies (ways of connecting with an audience) thathelp or challengefilm industry practices.You will be given credit for your knowledge and understanding, illustrated through casestudy material, in any of these areas; there is no requirement that they should all be coveredequally. Examiners will be prepared to allow points, examples and arguments that have notbeen considered if they are relevant and justified.Mark Scheme 6
  • 7. To get a top mark (level 4 out of 50)you need to do the following:1. Explanation/analysis/argument (16-20 marks)Shows excellent understanding of the taskExcellent knowledge and understanding of institutional/audience practices – factualknowledge is relevant and accurateA clear and developed argument, substantiated by detailed reference to case study materialClearly relevant to set question2. Use of examples (16-20 marks)Offers frequent evidence from case study material – award marks to reflect the range andappropriateness of examplesOffers a full range of examples from case study and own experienceOffers examples which are clearly relevant to the set question3. Use of terminology (8-10 marks)Use of terminology is relevant and accurate4. Expression and coherence of argumentComplex issues have been expressed clearly and fluently using a style of writing appropriateto the complex subject matter. Sentences and paragraphs, consistently relevant, have beenwell structured, using appropriate technical terminology. There may be few, if any, errors ofspelling, punctuation and grammar. 7
  • 8. Introduction ‘Anticipated for almost as long as the second coming, the digital media era is finally upon us and that much misused word convergence has become meaningful. From Rupert Murdochs deal to buy MySpace to the selling of YouTube for more than a billion dollars after 18 months of trading, we are slap back in the middle of the second dot.com boom. Dont even mentionGoogle, whose founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, must be crossing off the days till its time to become full time philanthropists and cancel third world debt. (Gibson 2007)Media Studies is all about the contemporary, so while it is useful to have a sense of thehistory of the film industry in Britain (so we know how successful the industry is at presentrelative to other time periods) we are really much more concerned with how films arecurrently being produced and distributed and how this is changing.The key agent of change is convergence. This is because it makes little sense these days totalk about the film industry without referring to other media industries like internetdistribution. The word institutionrefers to the companies and organisations that providemedia content – films - whether for profit or as a public service. This involves anunderstanding of media as business, the relationship between film producers, distributors andexhibitors and the public or audience. You need to be concerned with how film companies producing and distributing material operate within a context of ownership, convergence, technologiesand globalisation. And you need to be very interested in how things are changing. You cant be expected to feel the pace of change as you will have grown up with online media as the norm, but for this part of your studies you need to acquire a sense of how rapidly institutions and audiences are being transformed by digital technology: The question that needs to be answered is: do new media forms produce both distinctively different content and audiences when compared with their predecessors? The answer to this question is a qualified yes. (Marshall 2004) 8
  • 9. Convergence Convergence describes two phenomena: First, technologies coming together, for example, a mobile phone you can use as a still and moving image camera, download and watch moving images on, use as an MP3 player and recorder and access the internet with. Second, media industries are diversifying so they produce and distribute across several media—for example, a newspaper with an online version and audio podcasts or the coming together of videogames with films e.g. Quantum of Solace (2008). We no longer live in a media world where television, videogames, films, newspapers, radio, magazines and music exist separately. For this reason it is essential that you study the impact of convergence on the film industry - the focus here is on the contemporary nature of film production, distribution and exhibition. Extracts from Why Does Convergence Matter? UK Film Council January 2008If, by convergence, we mean the trend for different technologies for the delivery of contentto start to resemble one another, what will this mean for us?For example, television sets will increasingly resemble computers while computers willincreasingly resemble televisions; both will be used to download moving films from theinternet, and eventually the distinction between the separate technologies are likely to beerased. Convergence has already led to the development of video-on-demand, which can bedelivered by a variety of different devices.But technological convergence itself is only a means to an end; what is also being changed isboth the economics and culture of the moving image, including film. The debate about theimpact of convergence has important consequences not just for the film industry but for theway in which we all reflect ourselves to ourselves and to others.Why is convergence important for consumers, and the economy as awhole?For consumers, convergence helps to ensure greater price transparency as regards watchingfilms in different media and makes accessing those films more convenient. Convergence alsopresents us with the potential to choose from and access a far wider and more diverse rangeof films in different media.For the UK economy convergence represents an opportunity to build on its competitivestrengths internationally in respect of creative talent and content creation and thereby toenhance growth and productivity and to develop skills. For the film industry it presents 9
  • 10. opportunities to reach wider audiences. But it also presents large challenges in respect ofrights, windows and financing models, most particularly for independently-produced Britishfilms.How does the UK compare internationally? The UK is very well placed to seize the opportunities presented by convergence provided it addresses the challenges identified listed below. A rapid transition to the next generation of broadband access networks is critical if we are to remain competitive with other economies such as those of Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore which have invested very significant resources in advanced broadband networks. In Hong Kong speeds of 1GB are already available, while the highest speed on general offer in the UK at the moment is 50Mbs. If we want to take advantage of ‘convergence’ what are the key challenges and opportunities it presents for the future?The UK Film Council believes that, going forward, there will be substantial challenges forpublic policy around convergence with respect to film. There have already been tensionsaround some core issues relating to new media such as Internet Piracy.There has already been a great deal of debate trying to describe the likely impact ofconvergence upon the creative industries. On one side some existing and powerfulinstitutions have adopted, at least until recently, a largely defensive approach to theemergence of digital media, apparently in the belief that the status quo would prevail largelyuntouched and that existing business models would remain fit for purpose.On the other, some commentators have claimed that the impact of digital media will sweepaway all our present assumptions about the way in which the creative industries, and film inparticular, operate and that in a brave new world of digital abundance the industry willeventually cease to exist as we know it.These positions are mirrored, for example, in elements of the debate around copyright theftand online copyright infringement. Some powerful interests have behaved at times as if theonly way to fight piracy is through protection and more extreme forms of enforcement. Someothers have behaved as if access to any form of intellectual property at any time for free is ahuman right.The ability to create and distribute content in a much larger variety of ways will acceleratethe segmentation of the film sector such that there will be many more different business andcultural models, each based on different sets of aims and objectives. Just as the audience’sability to choose between different ways of consuming product is greatly enhanced by digitaltechnology (e.g. the emergence of iPlayer), so too is the ability of institutions to createdifferent ways tomake films and to disseminate them to audiences. 10
  • 11. The UK Film Council is clear that the history of technological innovation in the filmindustry, from the arrival of sound in the 1930s to the advent of widescreen in the 1950s,offers real benefits to audiences but can also turn againstpublic policy and the individual.For example, the market power of the major operator of pay-television in the UK – BSkyB –created a situation in which a series arrangements with the Hollywood studios worked to thedisadvantage of smaller independent suppliers and was thereby detrimental to audiencechoice. Some independent suppliers reported that they were either unable to sell filmsdirectly to BSkyB, despite those films having achieved commercial success, or that theyreceived prices which were not equitable with those achieved by the studios on a like-for-likebasis.The UK Film Council has consistently argued that film theft and online copyrightinfringement represent a major threat to all elements of the UK film industry and to filmculture. Some 5% of UK adults have downloaded a film and/or a TV show and the quantityof titles illegally downloaded has risen to an average of between 7-15 per year.The veryrapid take-up of broadband in the UK could increase copyright infringement by means offile-sharing.Q1. Why is convergence both a blessing and a curse for the UKfilm industry? 11
  • 12. AudienceAudience is a huge area of Media Studies with many variants and competing approaches, soit is important to be precise about our focus which is on the relationship between audienceand institution.For this part of your course you are more concerned with audience theory, as you will beexploring the ways that audiences are created/constructed for different films.You will need to analyse the more complex nature of new media audiences and how digitalmedia distribution and consumption has allowed consumers to become producers or at leastinteractors, and thus far more active users of media. This is more difficult than simply sayingthe film industry targets teenagers’.The new media erodes the boundary between producer and audience: Conventional research methods are replaced—or at least supplemented—by new methodswhich recognise and make use of peoples own creativity, and brush aside the outmoded notions of receiver audiences and elite producers. (Gauntlett 2007a)Audience FragmentationThis phrase is used to describe the ways in which people engage with media, and it showshow the idea of audience is in the digital era is changing. The ways in which convergence,user-created content and social networking have transformed the audience are often thoughtabout in terms of audiencefragmentation. This means that the internet - rollingentertainment news and internet gossip sites, films downloaded in various ways - breaks upthe potential audience group for any particular film. There’s less point in the UK distributorsof Skyfall paying for an expensive TV ad during Coronation Street if they know that fewermembers of their target audience will be watching.On the other hand, Csigo (2007) sees this trend as a ‘duality’ working in two ways -convergence leads to the traditional mass audience fragmenting into smaller niche audiencesbut also ‘falling together’ in other ways by becoming more intimate members of smallergroup. In other words there are less big-budget, blockbusters now, and more films aimed atpromoting a ‘cult’ audience.In this new climate the film industry is desperately trying to provide 360-degree brandingfor their films - to surround us with them across all the various converged media forms thatwe come into contact with.Csigo suggests that media institutions like the film industry are nolonger interested in keeping the audience together, but in ‘triggering engagement’.Converging media can lead to both control by the film industry - as the various filmcompanies get bigger and bigger and control more and more of the industrybut alsoresistance by the consumers, who now get to produce their own films and upload them ontoYouTube.For the film industry this imposes key changes: the media world changes from a valuechainwhere films are made and distributed to audiences - to a social network- a complexsystem where producers and audiences are mixed up – think about how the music industry 12
  • 13. colonised MySpace or how big companies have populated the Internet.Another way of describing this is the shift from push media (where producers push films atus and we receive and consume them passively) to pull media (whereby we decide whatwe want to do with the media and access it in ways that suit us).This new media world in comparison to the old media world is: ... richer, more diverse and immeasurably more complex because of the number of producers, the quantity of the interactions between them and their products, the speed with which peoplein this space can communicate with one another and the pace of development made possible by ubiquitous networking. {Source: http://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/about/discussion/blogging.html last accessed September 2007}Q2. How has the Internet allowed film-makers to find and attractaudiences in different ways? 13
  • 14. Corporate Intrusion into CyberspaceIt is important to contextualise some of the new digital media activities that have madeconvergence possible and in fact accelerated it. During the 1990s, the shift to digital transmission of all forms of data has increased at anaccelerated pace. This shift to computer language has already redefined the music industry and will overtake film, radio, and television production and distribution. In the future virtually all forms of data and information will be produced and stored in interchangeable digital bits. (Herman and McChesney 1997)When previously do-it-yourself’ media institutions like YouTube and MySpace werepurchased by big media players (News Corporation bought MySpace; Google boughtYouTube), immediately the relaxed approach to copyright ceased and the sites became morevisibly corporate. For example, much illegally posted material has been removed fromYouTube and MySpace is now using the Gracenote software made famous by iTunes to clearcopyright and intellectual property at the point of download.If it seems strange that the big corporations are keen to either take over or form partnershipswith websites that threaten them by distributing material for free, thenconsider this. UK onlyinternet advertising generates around £2 billion a year - more than 50 per cent of the moneymade from TV ads. This figure has increased greatly in the course of 2007. Why? More UKhomes are now equipped with broadband. This results in an increase in time spent onlinecompared to other media (such as TV) and this has in turn created a huge increase in moneyinvested in online adverts—a fairly simple equation. Currently, Google alone clean uparound 45 per cent of all the revenue from online ads in the UK – about £1 billion.How is the Internet changing things? Web 2.0Web 2.0 describes a new phase of the internet, which allows us to create material, distributeit to one another (and thus share it) and perhaps move closer to the democratic spirit of theinternet that its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, had in mind. [There is] a growing trend in media away from established institutions and expert content, towards user-generated content and the power of virtual communities. You cant have failed to come across the story of how The Blair Witch Project used viral marketing or how the Arctic Monkeys used MySpace to take over the world. Even though the latter is not strictly true, MySpace did help to generate a tremendous amount of interest in the band amongst users, illustrating the power new media has to reach audiences. It also demonstrates why traditional media institutions feel threatened by new media: if they dont keep up they might die. Why else did News Corp buy MySpace, or MTV offer screen time to user-created content, or The Guardian set up so many blogs and talkboards to encourage audience participation? (Luhrs 2007)There is clearly a need to look at film production, distribution and consumption in new ways. 14
  • 15. Web 2.0 is a positive, ‘democratic’ development for ordinary people who find themselveswith relatively cheap, instant access to film production and distribution – even a cameraphone or webcam,combined with a broadband connection can make you an overnightsensation on YouTube - but we need to take a reality check with regard to two issues. 1. The most popular web 2.0 sites are owned by huge companies so every moment of democratic We Media social networking makes money for the big corporations - the same ones that were making billions from the web first time round are now getting even richer. 2. Consider these statistics from (2007): Only 0.16 % of YouTube visitors upload video 0.2 % of Flickr visitors upload photos Wikipedia, the most web 2.0 site imaginable given that the online encyclopaedia is written by its readers, only gets edited/expanded by 4.59 % of users.These figures make it clear that most of us are still justusing the web to read, watch, play andlisten and not to produce (create) and distribute (upload) which is how we wereusing oldmedia. Has anything really changed?Case Study - YouTubeYouTube is possibly the most revolutionaryexample of this new approach using new media.For many people it has become the first port ofcall when seeking video material, and along withMySpace, it enables amateur film-makers andmusicians to distribute their material to a vastaudience. A feature that is especially useful tomedia studentsis the way that users can postcomments on a video.YouTube, like Flickr and Del.icio.us, offers social tagging, which means that the userscategorise and classify the content (as opposed to this being done by the website or throughsoftware). YouTube is an interesting mix of DIY uploads, with some notable examples ofordinary people achieving global recognition for their videos but it has also created a recentmoral panic.The uploading of videos made by teenage gang membersbrandishing guns is causing serious concern in theaftermath of fatal shootings of children across the country,and the perhaps less serious happy slappy culture wasmade possible by YouTube.However, much of YouTube consists of uploads of existingcommercial material, music videos, film trailers etc which effectively act as free or belowthe line advertising for film and music distribution companies. 15
  • 16. Case Study – The Decline of MySpace Most MySpace users were between 16 and 25, which, considered alongside the staggering number of profilesin existence, helps us realise why Rupert Murdoch wanted to buy the site. This age group is one that advertisers are always desperate to reach, as they are the major audience for a host of entertainment- related products and services. MySpace became a hub for a variety of commercial enterprise, much of it the independent distribution of music by bandswithout a record deal. It is now possible to sell music via Paypal through MySpace, so wecurrently have the ironic state of play whereby small bands and independent film makers canuse a website owned by News Corporation (the most major of all the major mediainstitutions) to bypass the mainstream music and film industries. MySpace now has its ownmusic label, and many existing bands with long established recording contracts now releasesome of their music on the site. The content published on MySpace by its users varies from personal diary entries and discussions about the latest film or television episode, to the publication of original creative works such as digital photography and artwork or poetry. Of particular interest to News Corporation is that prior to its purchase, the top four discussion areas on MySpace were for content owned by NewsCorp itself: Family Guy, The OC, The Simpsons and Napoleon Dynamite. Whatever the fate of MySpace, its clear that media companies (both new entrants and established players) are starting to see the value of user-generated content and the advertising revenue that can be made from it. Murdoch may be right in his view that the MySpace generation wants to consume and produce media on their own terms, but if he has his way it will still be the one god-like figure from above who will be the one to profit. (OHear 2006)However, that was four years ago, and things move fast online: MySpace halves UK audienceMySpace has halved its UK audience within the last 12 months…Daily Telegraph 22 Jul2010The new figures reveal that MySpace’s audience numbers dropped by 49 per cent over thelast year, falling from 6.5 million visitors in May 2009, to just 3.3 million in May 2010.The news comes hot on the heels of the site’s major rival, Facebook,hitting 500 millionregistered users.MySpace, founded in 2003, at its peak had more than 100 million registered members, but itsaudience has been declining since the rise of Facebook in 2008.The latest set of data also revealed that nine out of ten of the 38.2 million UK internet usersover the age of 15 used social media in May 2010. Twitter was found to have 4.3 million 16
  • 17. users in the UK but unlike MySpace, has grown its audience by 62 per cent over the last 12months.Facebook is used by 30.4 million people in the UK, which worked out as 79 per cent of thecountry’s online population.MySpace’s decline is in spite of arevampof the site’s functionality and renewed focus onmusic and entertainment content. The site also launched MySpace Music in May 2010, anew streaming and subscription service, which has faced stiff competition from the likes ofSpotify.And then in 2011: Myspace sold for $35m in spectacular fall from $12bn heydayFive years ago News Corp bought it for $580m – then it was crushed by Facebook, leaving itat a fraction of its peak value – The Guardian June 2011Myspace, once the worlds hottest internet firm, has been sold to an online ad company foraround $35m, a fraction of the $100m its parent company was seeking for the ailing socialnetwork and billions less than its value five years ago.Rupert Murdochs News Corporation bought Myspace in 2005 for $580m. In 2006 Googlesigned a $900m deal to sell ads on Myspace; by 2007 it had 300m registered users and wasbeing valued at $12bn. But the social network was subsequently crushed by Facebook, whichlaunched a year after Myspace.News Corp put Myspace up for sale this year, engaging investment bank Allen & Co to finda buyer. News had been looking for $100m but settled for $35m offer from advertisingtargeting firm Specific Media. The sale is believed to be mainly in stock and News Corp willretain a small holding. 17
  • 18. Myspace is expected to shed more than half of its 500 remaining members of staff as part ofthe deal. The layoffs follow a 30% staff reduction in April 2010 and a further cut of 47% inJanuary 2011. Two years ago Myspace employed more than 1,400 people.Facebook passed Myspace in terms of numbers of users two years ago. As people droppedMyspace, so did advertisers. Market research firm eMarketer estimates that the site will earnabout $183m in worldwide ad revenues this year, down from $605m at its peak.The sale comes as a new generation of internet firms are attracting sky-high valuations.Zynga, the online games developer behind hits including CityVille and FarmVille, isplanning an initial public offering (IPO) that could value it at $20bn. LinkedIn, the business-focused social network, has already gone public and is valued at $8.6bn. Next year Facebookis expected to go public – analysts have estimated it could be worth $80bn or more.Q3. Summarise how you think sites like YouTube, Spotify andFacebook are good for film audiences. What do they let us do,that we couldn’t before? 18